»Elektra« und Hegels Unterbewertung der Individualität und öffentlichen Gerechtigkeit auf der antiken Szene

Hegel-Jahrbuch 1 (1):116-120 (1999)
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With the positively ending Elektra, Sophocles wanted to show the audience how political and moral independence, judgment and the courage to act are necessary - to a sometimes extreme extent - for the good of the family and the state. Even in the old democracy, virtue - which for Hegel was a principle of democracy - was not enough on its own. The downfall of democracy was probably due to a lack of individuality rather than the emergence of that individuality. We find the negative result of Hegel's general assessment of the contribution of an individual to democracy not only in relation to ancient democracy. In a similar sense he expresses himself about contemporary conditions. In the Reform Bill article he describes how a French voter makes up a ninety-millionth part of the legislative power and will therefore pay little attention to his contribution to the general public. Although the Athenian democracy was smaller and different from the French one, its citizens probably needed proof of the need for individual participation in it too. Sophocles' Electra served this purpose. How Elektra and Orestes re-paved the way for an essential institution of democracy, the court of justice, will not have escaped the onlookers' attention. In this play it was shown that individuality could have negative as well as positive consequences. After all, it was only through the appearance of Electra and Orestes that justice could be saved and become a public matter again.
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